SUTTON PARK in Birmingham – the seventh largest urban park in Europe and second largest outside a capital city – was once again the venue for the Midlands Road Relays Championships on Saturday.
More than 1,100 runners from across the Midlands came together to take part in this event, in which the ladies competition consisted of teams of four, with each team member running 4.33km (2.71 miles) before handing over to the next runner in their team.
The men’s competition consists of teams of six, with each runner completing 5.88km (3.68 miles). The course is notable for a pretty brutal hill early on, which really does take its toll on runners.
Stratford Athletic Club were able to field a magnificent five teams this year – two ladies’ and three men’s.
The ladies’ A team got off to an absolutely scintillating start as Zoe Chandler ran a stunning 15.54 before handing over to Alice Reed. Alice, who recently ran a superb Kenilworth Half Marathon, completed her run in 16.18, overtaking five runners in the process.
She handed over in seventh place, out of 119 teams. Rebecca Pridham (22.57) ran her best race since recovering from a really nasty traffic accident a couple of months ago, before handing over to Suzi Graham, whose time of 21.47 ensured Stratford finished in 38th place – the best team performance of the day.
The ladies’ B team were led off by Bev Bridgen (23.29) who handed over to Nic Reynolds (24.46). Nic, having recently run in the Great North Run, was planning to compete in the Warwickshire Triathlon less than 24 hours after this gruelling race.
Emily Adams (19.16) was able to gain a superb 14 places before handing over to Caroline Furey (21.18) who was able to gain a further nine places, meaning the Stratford ladies finished in 81st place.
Stratford men’s A team, like the ladies, got off to a flying start, with Josh Newman running the longer distance in 21.02 at a fabulous 5.42 per mile pace.
Josh handed over to Tim Hutchinson ( 21.07 ) who was just five seconds slower. He handed over to Nye Davis (22.12) and it was then the turn of Martin Helliker (23.24) before Sam Weaving ran a superb leg of 22.00, gaining four places.
Wayne Vickers (21.56) ran another superb leg, bringing the ream home in 52nd place.
The B team’s splits were Jon Mulkeen (24.41), David Smyth (22.51), Dave Battersby (24.48) Pete Sugden (25.50), David Smyth (24.05) and Ben Twyman (27.13).
David had to run two legs due to a last-minute no-show from one of the team members. The team finished in 82nd place.
The C team were led off by James Deacon (25.58), followed by Phil Marshall (28.27), Phil Brennan (28.39), Rob McCormick (32.44), Dave Wolstencroft (28.32) and David Jones (27.43). The C team finished 100th.
AT THE end of a busy track and field season, when most athletes are taking a well earned rest and planning their winter training, Stratford Athletic Club’s David Jones was driving a round trip of 450 miles to take part in the British Masters 10,000m National Championships, from which he returned with a bronze medal.
Having run under 45 minutes a fortnight previously at Gloucester to set a new personal best, David lined up in Jarrow hopeful of a medal.
On a wet and windy morning, he had a close tussle with another competitor for the silver medal, before finding himself slipping off that pace.
Keeping going and confident of his bronze medal, he finished the 25 laps in 44:59.5 – his second successive sub-45-minute run.